At the end of Simulation phase, up to five finalist teams will proceed to the Demonstration Phase. The teams proceeding to Demonstration Phase will split USD 500,000 equally among them. The five finalist teams proceeding to Demonstration Phase will also be provided with a USV and a robotic arm by ASPIRE. The robotic arm can be selected by the team, with a value up to USD 50,000. The finalist teams will return the USV and robotic arm to ASPIRE after the completion of Demonstration Phase. No other funding or sponsorship will be provided by the organisers.

Partial, unclear image of the vessel(s) will be provided, possibly from various angles. Further details will be provided during the annoucement of the semi-finalists.


Yes. However, teams must return the USV and Robotic arm in good working condition after the conclusion of the final demonstration.

Each Team will own the IP (Intellectual Property) in its Team Technology. However, acceptance of a prize in Demonstration Phase is conditional on the Teams granting to ASPIRE and its Affiliates a nonexclusive, sub-licensable, perpetual, royalty-free, worldwide licence to use and exploit the intellectual property in the Team Technology for any purpose. Further details relating to this licence will be contained in the Competitor Agreement.

For six months after the conclusion of the Challenge, each finalist Team shall grant ASPIRE a first right of refusal to negotiate the purchase of an exclusive licence over the intellectual property in the Team Technology. Further details related to the first right of refusal will be contained in the Competitor Agreement.

At ASPIRE, we are seeking the most talented teams and technologies to help address illegal fishing and smuggling in waterways around the world - and we want to play a role in applying the innovations created from the MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge. The top three prize winners will grant to ASPIRE a non-exclusive license (with sub-licensing rights) to use the IP, which will enable us to play a key role in addressing these real-life maritime problems. ASPIRE will not take any ownership rights in the IP created by teams as part of the challenge. Any IP created by participating teams will remain owned by those teams, including the rights to commercialise and exploit the IP. There will be no changes to this proposed ownership and licensing structure.

Any communication to a device that is not part of the USV+UAV Swarm

Any communication to a device that is part of the USV+UAV Swarm

An environment where the Global Navigation Satellite System is not available

One member of each team should register. There is no advantage to be gained from registration by more than one member. Successful registration provides access to white paper submission portal and a link to join the discussion board. Full details of the team and its members should be described in the white paper.

Each team should have at least one member. There is no upper limit to the number of members in a team.

The total area where final demonstration will take place is about 10 sq. km. A more accurate estimate will be provided during the annoucement of the finalists preceding the Demonstration Phase

The USV can be used as a "portable infrastructure" for intra-system (USV+UAV Swarm) communication.

Participants may use other techniques with coloured visual imagery being a compulsory component.

Under 10 vessels

1 or 2 vessels

This information will not be revealed prior to the Demonstration Phase.

Boundary marking details will be provided at the beginning of Simulation Phase. For the white paper, the participants may assume any convenient boundary marking mechanism.

Inspection and identification of multiple target vessels can be carried out in parallel. However, once a target vessel is identified, the intervention tasks on that vessel have to be carried out in sequence.

Information about target vessel(s) and objects to be picked up will be provided to the teams in an intelligence report by the organisers. The details and format of this intelligence report will be provided at the beginning of the Simulation Phase.

  • Once a target vessel is identified, the UAV+USV system transmits the following information to the command centre:
  • A live video stream marking and labeling the target vessel and a boolean interaction mechanism for the operator to convey 'yes' or 'no'
  • If the target vessel is confirmed by the operator as 'yes', the live video stream should then identify and mark the objects for intervention task along with a boolean for the operator to confirm the objects as 'yes' or 'no'. This activity must be done in sequence; first the small object and then the big object.

Yes. The mounting of the robotic arm and its operation to ensure successful completion of the intervention task is an important part of the challenge.


It is ideal to assume a real life scenario where the object could be anything.

The small object must be picked up and deposited by the UAVs.

The large object has to be moved by the UAVs and picked up and deposited by the robotic arm from the target vessel onto the USV.

Up until the end of the White Paper Phase, there is no limit on the type of UAVs that can be used. Any limitations will be announced at the beginning of the Simulation Phase.

Yes. An individual can be part of multiple teams.

In principle, yes. Only the last submitted white paper from each login ID will be considered for judging. If the teams/individuals would like to submit multiple ideas, they will need to create a new registration for each white paper containing a different idea, and submit it from this new login ID.

The only extra-system communication allowed will be between the UAV+USV system and the operator (ASPIRE representative). This communication will serve exclusively to stream the video and the associated Boolean to identify the target vessel and the objects for intervention.

The finalist that will proceed to the demonstration phase may use the US$50,000 towards one or all of the following payloads to be mounted on the USV:

- The development of robotic arm(s) from scratch,

- The improvement of existing or procured robotic arm(s),

- The procurement of robotic arm(s) and

- Mounting mechanism for the robotic arm(s).

Low visibility due to weather conditions such as sand storm or extreme brightness in summer is a requirement. Nil visibility is not a requirement.

Improvements to the design submitted in the white paper are subject to review and approval. However, a fundamental change in design is not allowed.

The details of enforcing the GNSS denial in the demonstration area will not be available to participants. Each equipment unit used will be inspected thoroughly before the final demonstration. If any equipment is found to use the GNSS signal, the team will be disqualified immediately.

Yes. There has to be at least one robotic arm mounted on the USV. Any additional robotic arms mounted will be counted as part of the payload.

The clock starts when the UAV+USV system begins the demonstration task at the start gate. The moment the bigger object is picked up from the target vessel and placed on the USV platform by the robotic arm, the clock stops. The UAV+USV system should return to the starting point to be collected. The complete details will be specified in the rule book.

The UAVs may take off, land and recharge on the USV. It is up to the participants to use or not use these options.

The technology used for identifying the target vessel is an important part of the challenge. ASPIRE does not specify the use of any particular technology. It is up to the participants.

The final demonstration will be held in WMO sea state from 0 to 3 (inclusive).

No. The challenge design does not involve any form of attack.

The small object will be maximum 1 kg. The large object will be maximum 10 kg.

The Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) is the regulator responsible for the radio spectrum in the UAE. Please refer to its website https://tdra.gov.ae/en/ and contact details for any additional information you might require.

Participants will not be allowed to pre-install any markers around the demonstration area.

At the start of the demonstration, the USV will be at the starting point and will be free to move.

The entire demonstration has to be 100% unmanned. The only human interaction is the operator's confirmation of the identified vessel(s) and the objects chosen for intervention task.

Tentatively between 31 January and 28 February 2022.

There will not be any sensors provided with the USV. The USV will be fitted with a computer and interface for connecting to the sensors and programming autonomy. The mounting of the sensors and programming of the autonomy will have to be done by the teams.

This is not required for the White Paper Phase, however, for the Simulation and Demonstration Phases the USV must follow the rules of the road as there will be vessels other than the target vessel.

The starting gate area will be on the shore - part land and part water.

Each UAV and the USV will need to have a safety "Return to Home" or "Kill" switch that the Operator can exercise when the devices cross the demonstration area boundary. How you implement this feature and send the information to the Operator is up to you.

The intelligence report containing details of target vessel and objects to be picked up will be provided at least 2 hours prior to the demonstration.

The time limit of the demonstration is 50 minutes, including any accumulated time penalties.

It is at the teams' discretion how the communication to the Operator is routed.

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